Reading Time: 4 min | May 2024

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Winner Success Stories

"The cluster programme gives children the skills they need to thrive in school and later life!"

While the current iF SOCIAL IMPACT PRIZE Jury is working on choosing the next projects to be supported, we catch up with past supported projects: Where are they now? We talked to international communications officer Amy Rook of former SIP-winner "Children on the Edge".

The project selected by the jury focuses on bringing early years education to Congolese refugee children in Kyaka II settlement in Uganda. Children attend 'cluster lessons' outside, near their homes, with locally trained teachers using a fun and colourful play based curriculum. Over 5,000 children are able to access vital learning and support through an early years education programme that is sustainable and owned by the community itself.

iF: For a start: Why did you apply with your project for the iF Social Impact Prize?

Amy Rook: As a small charity, recognition from organisations like iF Design are hugely important in giving us a global platform to share our work. We knew that with our cluster learning model, we had found an effective solution that enabled children living in humanitarian contexts to easily access and benefit from quality early years education (ECE). We wanted to share this with the world in the hope that other agencies could replicate the model.

iF: What makes Children on the Edge different from other NGOs?

AR: We’re a relatively small charity, and this enables us to access places that larger organisations can’t, reaching marginalised communities living truly ‘on the edge’. Using over 30 years of experience; we’re able to work alongside these communities to create bespoke, innovative solutions to tackle the problems they face and break down barriers to education. Our work is led by local people, and brings lasting, sustainable change, long after we’re gone.

"A needs assessment in 2019, showed that thousands of Congolese refugee children living in the Kyaka II settlement in Uganda, were unable to access Early Childhood Education. Provision was extremely limited or was simply too far away from peoples’ homes to get to easily. We knew that by offering cluster learning, with trained local teachers, in small groups, close to peoples’ homes; that we could reach these children and bring a sustainable childhood education model to the children who needed it most. The cluster programme gives children the skills they need to thrive in school and later life."

Amy Rook, International Communications Officer, Children on the Edge

iF: Early childhood education is no new word anywhere around the world. How do you think it differs from early childhood education in rather marginalised regions and how can little children profit?

AR: We know that quality early childhood education (ECE) during their critical development years (0-5) sets children up for lifelong learning and gives them the best possible start in life, no matter where they live. For children living in difficult situations or have experienced trauma, like the Congolese refugee children we support in Uganda, quality ECE offers a critical and unique opportunity to enable children to thrive now, and later in life. Responsive care from trusted adults in safe spaces, where they can play freely and have fun, can actually protect and buffer refugee children from the negative effects of what they have been through.

iF: Lastly: What are the next steps/plans of Children on the Edge?

AR: We have been invited by UNHCR to replicate our cluster learning model into the remaining five zones of the Kyaka refugee settlement. The programme currently provides early years education for 5,000 children, by 2025 we will be reaching 10,000 children.

We are keen to share our effective ECD model with agencies and organisations so it can be replicated in other locations around the world.